Lacquered MIL

Dear Billy:

Help! I’m obligated to keep my mother-in-law’s secretary front and center in my living room. How do I incorporate it into my contemporary décor?

Answer: Technically, contemporary means, “design of the day,” which to me says, “anything goes.” Antique pieces and accessories create a catalyst when layered against more contemporary pieces: The old pieces highlight the clean lines of the more contemporary pieces and vice versa. Support your mother-in-law’s secretary with other antique accessories or an additional small piece or two for a successful blend. If your contemporary interior can’t tolerate your mother-in-law or her secretary, lacquer it a funky color. Choose a color that appears somewhere else in the room and treat the secretary like a huge accessory. Try black, white, orange, or turquoise for today’s hot look. Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit.

—Billy Beson